How To Learn A Language Better, Faster & Cheaper Without Traveling Abroad

new york skyline

It’s a myth.

Most people believe the only way to learn a foreign language is to travel abroad.

But they’re wrong.

Here’s the truth: If you live in New York, London, Paris, or any other big city, you’re already firmly in one of the best language learning environments on the planet.

You see, when I started learning languages (aged 19), I thought I had to travel, too.

So I did.

I used to spend lots of time and money traveling the world in order to get language practice.

However, by the time I learnt my eighth language (Arabic), things had changed.

I realised you could get virtually all the benefits of travel by living at home. What’s more, by staying at home, you also get a bunch of advantages you can’t get by traveling.

These days, on my blog and podcast, I spend my time teaching people exactly how they can pick up a new language quickly, and from home.

And for me, cities like New York or London are a language learner’s paradise.

Whether you want to learn your first foreign language, brush up an old one, or add a few more languages to your CV, you can.

And I’d like to show you how.

Why traveling to learn a language isn’t always smart

When you travel abroad, there is one obvious benefit: You get immersion in your target language.

And what better way to become fluent quickly than to surround yourself with the language every day?

Unfortunately, the reality of travel is often very different.

Practising your target language abroad can be harder than it seems:

  • As a tourist, you will often find you are spoken to mostly in English
  • Even if you are able to practise, it can be limited to simple exchanges – such as ordering in a restaurant or buying a train ticket
  • People in certain countries are notorious for resisting helping you practise their own language, preferring to speak English instead
  • If you’re not a confident, outgoing person, the very thought of practising with native speakers might terrify you!
  • Making friends using only your target language is difficult, and unlikely to happen until you are a more advanced speaker and live somewhere for a more extended period
  • People who decide to live and work abroad often find themselves in an English-speaking environment, with few opportunities to practise the language. Working full-time, they are busy and tired, and have limited study time, despite living in the country itself.

I’ve been lucky enough to live in seven countries, and I’ve experienced all these things!

Even with some serious stubbornness, any one of these things can suck the motivation right out of you.

Now, it’s true that the more advanced you get, the more you can get out of living abroad. Conversation is easier, you speak more confidently, and people see you more as “one of them”.

Indeed, once you’ve got a strong foundation in a foreign language, traveling to the country itself can be a fantastic boost to your language skills.

But until you become more proficient in the language you’re learning, you’ve probably got more to gain by staying right at home.

Why you should stay at home to learn a language

Listen: When you start learning a new language, you’ve got work to do!

Yes, it’s a lot of fun, and there’s truly nothing like falling in love with a new culture and people.

Yes, I know how much you’re dying to get on a plane, and spend time exploring cities, towns and villages.

But, if you want to get beyond the beginner stage in your new language, there are no two ways about it… you’re going to have to do some work!

And it’s for precisely this reason that I now prefer to learn a language from home:

  • A stable life and routine means you can get on with your study without too many disruptions. When you live abroad, far from family and friends, it can be difficult to commit to regular study and stay consistent.
  • You can recreate an immersion environment at home, by streaming movies, listening to podcasts, playing music, and reading in your target language… all you need is an internet connection!
  • In a big city, the world is quite literally on your doorstep. Whatever language you’re learning, you can easily find people to practise with. And because they’re living abroad, they’re far more likely to be enthusiastic about helping you learn their language.
  • You can find cafes, restaurants, MeetUps, societies, and more, where you can spend time surrounded by the culture of the language you’re learning, and meet others who share the same interest as you.
  • Professional language teachers are everywhere (including online), so if you want to take lessons, there’s no need to travel to learn.
  • In cities like New York and London, you can find the world’s best language departments in bookstores, so you’re never short of great study material. (Check out Rizzoli in NYC, or Foyles in London)

Here’s the point: If you live in a big city, you can get all the benefits of living abroad (people, culture, immersion), without any of the negatives (stress, upheaval, linguistic pressure, cost).

So, what’s the best way to go about learning?

Learning like a pro…from home!

Even with all the benefits of living in a big city like New York or London, the best way to learn a language can still be confusing.

And this is where some help can come in handy.

Why spend years figuring out how to learn another language, when you can learn from those who have already figured how it’s done?

The Polyglot Workshops were created for this reason.

These workshops (featured in the BBC, New York Times, Forbes, and more) were created to bring together some of the world’s language learning experts, and make their experience available to the public.

In November 2015, we’re running two exclusive one-day workshops in London, and we’re looking for people like you to come and join us.

  • Saturday 21st November, or
  • Sunday 22nd November

We’ll be spending a whole day with you, and a very small group of people, sharing the exact strategies we’ve used to learn over 50 languages.

It’s an intimate, interactive day, where you’ll have the opportunity to ask us anything about learning foreign languages. You’ll also leave the workshop with a personalised action plan, so you’ll know exactly what to do in the weeks and months to come to reach your goals.

If you’re looking for the best way to raise your game, speak another language with confidence, and achieve your life’s ambitions… this is it!

These are currently the only workshops we have planned in the USA, and spaces are strictly limited.

To join us in NYC for an unforgettable day, click the link below…

CLICK HERE – NYC Workshop Details

Artboard-NYC

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This article was written by Olly Richards.

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  • Anca

    Seriously great article, Olly, thanks! I believe the NYC workshops are about to take place in one week, as in October 2015 and not 2016. 😉

  • Divya Singh

    Hey Richards, I personally don’t believe that travelling can make anyone learn a language at all. One waste his time in travelling, spend bucks but they are loosing up the time in which they can actually get in touch with the language sitting home or may be talking to a native speaker. What you say?

    • Yep… that was basically my point in the article! 🙂

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